We continue on with Psalm 23:4b
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
I want to focus this week’s post on the “rod” from this verse. Another description of this device that we may be more familiar with would be a club. The rod was a symbol of power and strength in a shepherd. It was an extension of the shepherd’s body. The sheep in Psalm 23 is comforted by the fact that His shepherd welds the rod. The rod is a symbol of God’s Word in our lives. It’s our source of authority and power as shepherds. We can learn all the leadership principles in the world but if we aren’t welding the rod of the Word, we aren’t shepherds. As shepherd would start young in their learning to use the rod properly. They would spend hours of practice in throwing it with accuracy. Our dedication to God’s Word must be the same.
One of the ways that the shepherd would use the rod is in discipline of the sheep. If a sheep wandered into an area of danger the club could be thrown to deter the sheep from straying. The Word of God provides our standard to guide our sheep away from dangers of this world. What better keeps us from sin than His Word? It gives us the boundaries that we need to live a life pleasing our Good Shepherd. Where are we wandering into territory that need correction from the rod?
Another use of the rod was to count and examine the sheep. If you have ever had to stand at the back of a room and count a group of people you may have found it helpful to point at the people as you count their heads. A rod would provide an extension of the shepherd’s hands to do this. Counting the sheep was important so that the shepherd could make sure all were accounted for. The rod was also used to examine the sheep through their wool. This would allow the shepherd to detect any pests, bugs, diseases or injuries. God’s Word in our hands provides an extension for us to account for an examine the sheep. The Word exposes things in our life that need to be set straight. It is interesting because in scripture wool is a picture of self. We must examine ourselves first of all in line with God’s Word.
Finally a rod would provide protection to both the flock and the shepherd. Predators can be defeated at the end of the rod. The best shepherds had practice the art of throwing the club with such force and accuracy as to defeat any wolf, lion, coyotes, start dogs, etc. that would come against their flock. They could throw the rod with such power as to stun and scare them off. The Word provides comfort in this matter because it can defeat all foes we face. As we learn to weld it with accuracy and power we too can protect against any scheme of the enemy. Jesus Himself modeled this for us as he opposed Satan in the wilderness. For every temptation and attack of the enemy there was a scriptural rebuke.
I will end this post with this quote from Phillip Keller:
There is no substitute for the Scriptures in coping with the complexities of our social order.
We will tackle the staff in our next post.